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Academy starlet braced for Havant debut

15/12/12  

Havant take on Gosport and Fareham at Hooks Lane. Joel Knight pulls away from Gosport. Havants Jarryd Robinson tackles Wayne Dugan.
Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (124077-7)

15/12/12 Havant take on Gosport and Fareham at Hooks Lane. Joel Knight pulls away from Gosport. Havants Jarryd Robinson tackles Wayne Dugan. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (124077-7)

 

Sam Berridge is primed to make his first-team debut as Havant aim to maintain their pursuit of Hampshire Cup glory.

Eastleigh visit Hooks Lane for a quarter-final showdown tomorrow (2pm).

Following a bruising 27-17 league win in the derby with Gosport & Fareham, the hosts are expecting an equally-stern test.

Eastleigh play two levels below the hosts – in London three south west.

But Havant first-team manager Rob Matthews insists there is no cause for complacency.

‘We know Eastleigh will not be any push-overs,’ said Matthews.

‘We beat Sandown & Shanklin in the last round – but only after they gave us a hard game.

‘Eastleigh have beaten Sandown this season, so we know it won’t be easy.

‘We are regarding Eastleigh and the Hampshire Cup with respect because it is a competition we’ve set out to win.’

Havant will make a number of changes from the Gosport encounter because of injury and unavailability.

Outside-half Dave Sweeney is absent after having his jaw and cheekbone broken in the physical derby.

He had a successful operation during the week but faces a long spell on the sidelines.

Havant have a strong squad, though, and the injuries will simply allow them to introduce 18-year-old academy prospect Berridge in the centre.

It is a policy Havant want to blossom in the future as they bring young talent through.

‘Working closely with academy head coach Mike Harris, we want to improve the integration of the academy with the first team,’ said Matthews.

‘That is the foundation of the future in any club.

‘Thirteen of the 15 players who started against Gosport & Fareham came through our academy.

‘We are looking at ways we can manage their introduction into senior rugby.

‘Sam is a case in point and has shown himself as a stand-out player in the academy matches

‘He will be making his debut surrounded by the experience of players like Joel Knight, Jarryd Robinson and Loz Blackburn.’

Back-row duo Jarryd Hayler and Ali Power and second-row Harrison Young are others who will soon be knocking on the door of the first team.

And some may well be included on the replacements’ bench.

‘The only problem we have with academy rugby is that it is generally played on a Sunday,’ said Matthews.

‘That means a lot of the lads have jobs on Saturdays which – in turn – sometimes makes it difficult for them to be involved with the first team.’

Dom Bellman, Dan Roberts and Grant Morris return to the squad tomorrow as Havant look to set up a return match against Gosport & Fareham in the semi-finals.

HAVANT: Robinson, Blackburn L, Berridge, Knight, Wilkes, Living, Morris, Marks, Austin, Ward-Golden, Neil, Parkin, Roberts, Anchor, Barfoot L, Bellman D, Bennett, Harrison, Bamford, Hart

 

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